After waiting for over a year, safety Cato June finally got back on the field this past weekend at the annual spring game. June saw some action at free safety in the scrimmage.
“It feels great (to be back),” June said. “A year is a long time, but it went by fast.”
June tore his anterior cruciate ligament in July of last year and missed the entire 2000 season. He was expected to start at either strong safety or free safety last year after starting the final four games of the 1999 campaign.
June hopes to regain that position in the upcoming season.
“When the year starts, I think I will be back to where I was when I left at starting free safety,” June said.
June”s excitement to be back on the field was obvious, and the feeling from the fans was reciprocal.
When a fan said to June after the game: “We”ve been missing you,” June replied, “Yeah, I”ve been missing you too.”
Also making his first appearance of the season after missing last year is Markus Curry, brother of junior strong safety Julius Curry. Markus didn”t see quite as much time as Julius who had two interceptions in Saturday”s game but saw time at cornerback and returning punts. Markus will likely be a backup defensive back next season.
Injury updates: Fifth-year seniors Jake Frysinger and Shawn Thompson, both of whom missed the 2000 campaign with injuries, were at the spring game but did not play due to injuries. Both expect to be ready for the beginning of the season.
“The trainers are very optimistic. Shawn is making really good progress and Jake”s foot is good,” Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr said.
Frysinger broke his foot and Thompson blew out his knee against Bowling Green in the first game of the season. Both had surgery on their injuries over the past year.
“I just started running about two weeks ago,” Thompson said. “Our goal is to get it back for two-a-days.”
Thompson is continuing his rehabilitation and is anxious to get back out on to the field.
“I can”t tell you how much I”ve missed being out there with my buddies,” Thompson said. “Especially during spring ball that is the toughest time.”
Thompson initially had a quick recovery, but an infection in his foot prevented the tight end from continuing his rehab.
Frysinger had a similar slow recovery from his injury. After his foot failed to heal, the doctors opted to have surgery on Jan. 19.
“We were just kind of playing the waiting game, and it never healed up all the way, so they figured instead of waiting around for something to happen, they went the aggressive route and had the surgery,” Frysinger said. “I feel good, but it is hard to sit out for so long. I was getting antsy watching all these guys roll around.”
Kickin” it: At halftime of the spring game Michigan brought out four kickers to attempt kicks at distances up to 45 yards. In addition to the pressure of kicking in front of a crowd, the kickers also had to deal with a large horseshoe of players surrounding the kickers as they attempted the kicks.
“That”s something we did late in the spring and the players really got into it,” Carr said. “I think it is a way of putting real pressure on a kicker. I thought that would be a good thing to do (at halftime). There was no sense going off and taking a halftime break.”
The players standing behind disrupted the kickers” rhythm. Hayden Epstein struggled under the pressure and perhaps showed the rust of offseason a bit during this exercise as he missed a kick of 41 yards.